Get access

Structure and function of placental exchange surfaces in goodeid fishes (Teleostei: Atheriniformes)


  • Joachim F. Schindler

    Corresponding author
    1. Institut für Anatomie, Universität Regensburg, Universitätsstraße 31, Regensburg, Germany
    • Correspondence to: JF Schindler, Amselstraße 18, 45472 Mülheim/Ruhr, Germany. E-mail:

    Search for more papers by this author


The species of the family Goodeidae have evolved reproductive strategies involving intraovarian gestation, early evacuation of nearly yolk-exhausted embryos from the ovigerous tissue into the ovarian cavity, placental matrotrophy during intraluminal gestation, and the birth of highly developed fry. The inner ovarian lining becomes hypervascularized during gestational periods and functions as the maternal component of the placental association. Embryotrophic liquid is secreted by the inner ovarian epithelium into the ovarian cavity. Comparative electrophoretic analyses of embryotrophe and maternal blood serum provide evidence for the transfer of maternal serum proteins into the embryotrophe. Trophotaeniae, proctodaeal processes of the embryos, provide a surface for nutrient absorption. Endocytic activity was demonstrated by ingestion of unspecific tracer proteins in various species. Moreover, the trophotaenial absorptive cells (TACs) in Ameca splendens ingest various proteins or random copolymers conjugated to colloidal gold as well as radioiodinated proteins in a way that satisfies the criteria of receptor-mediated endocytosis. Several aminopeptidases (APs) on the surface of TACs were identified as protein binding sites as evidenced by inhibition of binding and uptake of marker proteins in the presence of AP substrates or AP inhibitors. Morphological adaptations of the embryonic circulatory system pertaining to nutrient and gas exchange were characterized. The embryonic epidermis comprises two layers of squamous cells closely underlain by a dense capillary net. Efficient gas exchange is facilitated by a thin embryotrophe-blood barrier of both the embryonic skin and the intraovarian lining. J. Morphol. 276:991–1003, 2015. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.